From holding hands to scouting talent, Horton an integral piece for Bandits

By: Andrew Rosenthal

To listen to Kathy Horton mic’d up from the first base coach’s box, click here.

ROSEMONT, Ill. – An awkward note resonated through the first on-field encounter between Bandits outfielder Brenna Moss and assistant coach Kathy Horton. After a second-inning single, Moss went for a handshake at first while Horton dove in for a high five.

The pair met in the middle by holding hands.

“(Horton) just brings this fun, kind of child-like energy to the field, which is what you need to keep things going…” Moss said. “(Every coach) brings that energy on certain days, but I think Kathy does the best job of bringing it every day.”

On multiple occasions during each game, Horton can be seen jumping several feet in the air to applaud base hits, straying from the traditional clap of the hands.

“It’s great for me because it keeps me in the game,” Horton said. “It’s one of those things that they players say actually motivates them to keep on going as well. It gives them a little bit of motivation just to push harder.”

Horton joined the Bandits as an assistant coach and exercise physiologist ahead of the 2017 season, joining fellow first-year NPF coaches Sharonda McDonald and Kyla Holas on staff at the time. While the latter two have prior experience coaching collegiately or playing on NPF diamonds (McDonald), the past season marked Horton’s introduction to fastpitch softball in the United States.

It’s been a learning experience for the Newcastle, Australia resident whose national team continues to fight for a top three spot in the international rankings. With programs such as the United States and Japan setting the trend and the Chinese National Team earning its own experience in the U.S., Horton’s gained a better understanding and appreciation for coaching on one of the game’s biggest stages.

“I’ve enjoyed coaching with the other coaches too because sometimes you get stuck in your ways,” Horton said. “When you see the other coaches do things differently, it really makes you think.”

Although three strikes still goes down as a strikeout, there are a number of elements, according to Horton, that are merely routine for USA Softball when compared to the Australian game.

“Even the simple things such as the warm-up three hours prior to the game… that’s something (the Australians) have trouble getting our heads around in that we generally would start maybe and hour-and-a-half before the game,” Horton said.

The depth in competition among NPF clubs is also a new phenomenon to Horton and the seven Australian players who suited up for the Bandits during the 2017 season.

“The teams in Australia are still good, but the teams here are a lot more well-rounded and have a lot of depth in their lineup,” catcher Taylah Tsitsikronis said.

As part of its ongoing agreement with the Bandits, Softball Australia’s benefited from scouting opportunities, as well. Traveling overseas to scout and learn from competition is nothing new to those in the social circle of the NPF.

“When you see someone like Monica Abbott, she goes over and plays in Japan,” Horton said. “It’s great for her because it builds her profile, but the Japanese are also being smart in that they see how our best perform.”

As the Aussies further their push to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Horton hopes to renew the team’s relationship with the Bandits for the 2018 season. The head coach of the Australian National Team is the lone paid softball coach in the continent.

“I’m hoping this relationship with the Bandits and NPF continues because we are learning so much,” Horton said. “Hopefully, we are putting something back into the system too and it’s a win-win situation.”

To listen to Kathy Horton mic’d up from the first base coach’s box, click here.

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